And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor." Naomi said to her, "Go ahead, my daughter." (Ruth 2:2)
So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.
Her mother-in-law asked her, "Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!" Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. "The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz," she said. "The LORD bless him!" Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. "He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead." She added, "That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers." Then Ruth the Moabitess said, "He even said to me, 'Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.'" Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, "It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with his girls, because in someone else's field you might be harmed." So Ruth stayed close to the servant girls of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:17-23)
Throughout the book of Ruth, I cannot help but notice how Ruth always makes a point to honor and care for Naomi. Her actions prove to always be respectful and submissive to the authority of her mother-in-law. Notice in verse 2 when she asks Naomi for permission to go into the fields to glean food. Was that really necessary? Did Ruth really need Naomi's permission? Well, the short answer is this... since Ruth was an alien to Bethlehem, she knew that Israel's religion offered different forms of benevolence to the poor, the widow, and the orphan. However, Ruth lived "in the days when the judges ruled" (see Part 1 of this series). As such, nothing in her life should be taken for granted - especially for a Moabite woman living in Bethlehem. So, Ruth asked Naomi for guidance. Naomi, in turn, approved Ruth's plan and told her daughter to go ahead. Both women knew that their decision could put Ruth in harms way. However, both women had come to trust God fully (even in their despair). No matter what, the Lord would provide and protect.
Later, notice the dynamic between this mother and daughter once Ruth meets Boaz. Ruth had labored all day to bring food to Naomi. Mind you, it is likely that Naomi was too old or physically frail to accomplish this task on her own. Remaining true to her family commitment, Ruth chooses to love Naomi best by attending to her needs. Later, when Naomi sees how much Ruth has gathered, she becomes enthusiastic. As she hears of Boaz's favor to Ruth, her dismal temperament is gone. Naomi is no longer depressed, but rather delighted and full of hope. Notice her words, "The LORD bless him (Boaz)! He (God) has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead. That man (Boaz again) is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers."
Ladies, a kinsman-redeemer was basically a close, influential relative to whom members of a family could turn to for help. He was usually approached for help when the family line or possessions were in danger of being lost. He was responsible for buying back any land that was sold in times of crisis and/or saving relatives that were enslaved or widowed. Kinsman-redeemers would be asked to care for heirs left behind - usually in difficult circumstances. Also, they held the right to avenge a relative who had been killed.
The idea of the kinsman-redeemer that Ruth and Naomi found in Boaz also parallels the ultimate redemption found in Jesus as our Messiah and Savior. Christ, the ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer, came to buy us back into God's family. He chose to pay the ultimate ransom for us and save us from the most difficult of circumstances - death! Just like Boaz looked after the needs of Ruth and Naomi, ultimately becoming their benefactor, Jesus provides and protects His own while blessing richly. Naomi was indeed right... Our Kinsman-Redeemer God has never, ever stopped showing His people kindness. So much so, that while we were yet sinners... Christ showed up and died to save us. He always demonstrates His love and provides for our every need! As His faithful, we must follow His example and attend to one another's needs. Like Ruth, we must start with those we are closest to... our own family. According to God's commandment, Ruth knew that honoring her mother would insure her a long life in God's promised land... the land in which she deliberately came to be close to God.
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
Ladies, as we wrap up chapter 2 in the book of Ruth, let's consider how we also demonstrate and extend our love to family members. Let's honestly determine if we are willing to follow our Kinsman-Redeemer's example and pay the price to sacrifice ourselves for the encouragement of others. Ruth's actions brought Naomi hope and led her out of her slump and despair. May our actions prove equally uplifting to our own family members. May we respect those older than us and take care of our parents as we would wish to be cared for. No matter how depressed, angry, or miserable someone may be... we are to always respond with the love and respect Christ demonstrates to us.
We will be wrapping up the book of Ruth in the next day or two. Get ready for the climax of this wonderful story... it's pretty terrific. Until then... LOVE LOVE LOVE, my lovely DW's!
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